Councilors to vote on CCS construction contract

Coffs Harbour City Councillors will be asked to vote on whether to approve an 80% complete design proposal that essentially amounts to the construction contract for the controversial Cultural sand Civic Centre in Gordon Street.

By The Editor

The proposal is set out as the first item, General Manager’s Report (GM 21/01), on the council agenda for the next meeting at 5.00 p.m. this Thursday 25 February in what could be a very contentious and momentous meeting.

The Agenda

The item specific Executive Summary states;

“Implementation of the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) contract (RFT-1213-QI) for the Cultural & Civic Space (CCS) Project has reached the stage of delivering the Design & Construction (D&C) lump sum offer for the CCS Project for Council’s consideration.

The ECI builder, Lipman Pty Ltd, has worked with the Design Team, in accordance with the Probity Plan, to achieve the 80% detailed design milestone which has enabled the lump sum offer for Council’s consideration.  The D&C lump sum offer has been evaluated in accordance with the documented evaluation plan.

D&C lump sum offer assessment criteria and recommendation details are contained in the Confidential Attachment (ATT1) to this report, as is the associated report from the project’s independent Probity Advisor included as Confidential Attachment (ATT2) and the associated report from the project’s independent cost manager, Altus Group (ATT3) to this report.  The associated BVN Architecture 80% Design Development Report is also attached (ATT4) to the open report.”

The overwhelming number of attachments pertaining to this agenda item are deemed to be ‘confidential’ and are not available for residents and ratepayers to read.

Council Executive then provides councilors with four options; Accept, Reject and Negotiate, Reject – and wait for design to reach 100%, Reject in total.

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The dilemma facing a key Councilor this Thursday?

Council Executive’s preference that the proposal be accepted is mage quite clear;

“In accordance with Council’s resolution 2019/114 regarding the method of procurement for the CCS Project (Design & Construction with 2 Stage Early Contractor Engagement Procurement Model (2-stage D&C), the options available to Council are as follows:

1.    Accept – proceed in accordance with Council’s brief and the 80% design documentation with the lump sum offer provided by Lipman Pty Ltd as set out in ATT1 – Confidential Report Lump Sum Offer Assessment.  This option is recommended for the reasons set out in the confidential assessment (ATT1) and the benefits that have resulted from the two stage design and construct early contractor involvement procurement approach.” (CCO emphasis added)

The agenda item has already started a storm of outraged discussion on locally based social media sites.

Most comments seem to be opposed to awarding a construction contract before the delayed Council elections now due on 4 September this year from what CCO can so far ascertain.

One example is this from locval developer and tourism operator Chris Bramley;

Clearly the builder will incorporate a health margin in what appears to be an “open scope” 20% design element. What are the parameters for that design work?

This appears to me to be nothing short of a slush fund.I fail to see why the architects are not completing the design, on which to set a legitimate fixed building cost.This is pure “smoke and mirrors” to hide the actual cost or elements the public would be outraged further to find included.

Proposed construction timeline

Council Executive has set out a timeline for the project if the project is approved. it is reproduced below;

“The CCS project milestones table has been updated to reflect the known situation at this point in time.

 Key Project MilestonesStart dateEnd date
1Development application processing and approvalJul 2019Nov 2020
2Detailed design (to 80% design documentation)Feb 2020Dec 2020
3DemolitionNov 2020Dec 2020
4Award design & construction contract (remaining 20% design documentation and construction)Dec 2020Feb 2021
5ConstructionMar 2021Sept 2022
6Construction contingencySept 2022Dec 2022

Council Executive’s Conclusion to Councilors:

“This report provides Council with the outcomes of the detailed design process up to the 80% milestone and the lump sum offer from Lipman Pty Ltd that will enable the completion of detailed design from 80% to 100% and the construction of the CCS project. 

Given the matters raised within this report including the accompanying confidential attachments, it is recommended that the most proficient way forward for Council is the adoption of the recommendations within the report. ” (CCO emphasis added).

Image result for It's our way or the highway
Is this what Council executive is saying to councilors, residents and ratepayers?


The CHCC Council meeting agenda for Thursday 26 February 2021 can be found here;

9 thoughts on “Councilors to vote on CCS construction contract

  1. Hopefully, the site will be too waterlogged to carry out much excavation and the construction timetable will be delayed by the high water table until new,
    more intelligent councillors are elected in September who reject and overturn the CCS madness.

    Perhaps the big hole dug can be transformed into Coffs’ new Memorial Swimming Centre.

  2. This looks like a strategic move to lock in a contract before the electorate is enlivened and heated by new candidates having a public voice. Get in now. Then, when it’s locked in, councillors who face election backlash for wanting this project, a backlash they know they’ll have to face anyway, believe they have a stronger chance of re-election by attacking the new candidates with the argument that goes: “You will cost the electorate millions in legal fees if you get elected and stop the project.”

    It is filthy, dirty politics.

    I don’t have faith in councillors who may be concerned by the nature of this contract, or the executive advice given them, being sufficiently knowledgeable to vote against it, or to make a stand or make an argument so others don’t vote for it.

    My hope lives in the legal avenue of pausing or stopping this project at this time. It doesn’t mean, however, this idea will go ahead. What it does mean is that unless it’s paused at this point, this year’s election will be costly and nasty beyond words.

  3. I fail to see the purpose of giving the builder the option to complete 20% of the project design? For what good reason would Council simply not complete the design with the Architects?
    Let’s face it even the original estimate of $76mil was based on a prior concept plan, so how can we have confidence in any of this process?
    There are so many consultants, advisors (probity? really), third parties to lay blame on or deflect to that we can hardly have any confidence.
    As for “probity”, Council may wish to revisit the awarding of the architectural contract in the first place.
    My wife asked me “why is Council so hellbent on building this project?”…. My response was that there is no justification beyond wanting a new building that it has plans to fully occupy and the evidence is the lack of provided space in comparison to its existing use. Time will tell.

  4. How can any idiot accept an 80% complete concept.
    80% is no better than 0%. So do the only right and complety reject this ugly and highly expensive ego chasing narrow minded attention seeking rubbish of one person, ie. the mayor. Who in all probability wont be there next time.
    With so many people not wanting this. So you should wait.

    Stop and listern to the people you are supposed to serve and, take of .
    It is not your right to ignore the majority.
    Stop before you destroy our city for years to come.

  5. What an appalling way to to manage a major construction project! Private sector investors would run a mile on something organised like this and it wouldn’t get out of the ground. Never heard of or seen a major building contract structured in this way. In this case ratepayers are the investors but have no choice on what their money is spent on or how the contract is structured. Councilors, apart from being ratepayers, have some additional commitment in terms of their political careers. The GM and Executive have zero skin in the game and yet are making the big decisions. If this is how Local government is allowed to operate (all legally) in 2021 we are in for a rough ride in the future. Changing Councilors will not alter the system which allows this to happen.

  6. Sadly, I’m sure that PedestalFan’s suspicions are well founded.

    Denise Knight’s cohort are now locked into a “win at all costs” mentality. If it happens, it will be a Pyrrhic victory for the incumbent mayor, who may never experience the satisfaction of sitting in any chair, in any of the sparkling new offices, whilst holding a position of authority.

    The, now former mayor, may have to content herself with wandering through the cultural spaces, savouring their delights, and visiting the areas of the building accessible to the general public. She may even be restricted to spectating at council meetings, like an ordinary person, rather than exercising control over them, despite the extraordinary dreams and miraculous achievements, realised as a councillor.

    However, she may not mind all of this, really.

    Everyone who is anyone, will know that this building is not just a masterpiece of architecture, but an amazing, superb, vibrant, pulsating, functional, brilliant, wonderful, and purposeful administrative and cultural centre.

    It is also a monument to one courageous leader’s determination to struggle against the odds, to achieve the unachievable, to battle on against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to climb that hill of desperation, in order to reward her people for their undying faith in her ability to deliver on her promises. It will stand as mute testament, but testament nonetheless, to that leader’s willingness to make the hard choices, to, perhaps, even subvert democracy, in order to prevail.

    Those personal and professional sacrifices will have been made in order to create something truly memorable, in that bustling metropolis which is the new, revitalised, Coffs Harbour. Under that remarkable leader’s reign, this will now be an amazing city, with a huge population of 78 000 grateful people, and visited by hundreds of thousands of big-spending tourists, a centre of excellence with a strongly beating, cultural heart.

    In the future, the former mayor may be able look back on the detractors, and smile fondly, knowingly, content in the knowledge that the odds were overcome, that a seemingly overwhelming opposition was defeated , in order to create a memorial to a struggle against great adversity.

    Many of the greatest leaders in history have been maligned and misunderstood.

    True greatness comes at a price.

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